Tue, Sep 15, 2015 - Page 4 News List

FEATURE: Jody Chiang looks ahead to quiet life

TEAR-FILLED FAREWELL:The diva and her audience were crying during Sunday’s concert in Kaohsiung. She said she was looking forward to being an average person

By Hu Ju-hung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Jody Chiang on Sunday night takes a final bow as she concludes the final concert of her 25-show farewell tour at the Kaohsiung Arena.

Photo: CNA

“Touring beautiful Taiwan” is what pop diva Jody Chiang (江蕙) said she plans to do following her retirement from the stage.

Chiang wrapped up her 44-year career on Sunday evening with the final show in a 25-concert farewell tour that was marked by copious amounts of tears onstage and in the audience.

“The microphone in my hand was my toy when I was a child. It is the most valuable thing in my life, but after tonight it no longer belongs to me,” the 54-year-old singer said at the Kaohsiung Arena.

“There have been hardships, but also people who helped me along the way,” she said, thanking those who mentored her throughout her career.

“I believe that my parents would have been pleased to see the amount of love I received from everyone. God gave me this voice and made me the luckiest person in the world,” Chiang said before breaking down in tears.

Chiang announced on Jan. 2 that she was going to retire after staging a 16-concert farewell tour.

There was such a buying frenzy when the three-day window for ticket sales opened that fans overwhelmed the official ticketing site and convenience store ticketing kiosks, drawing widespread complaints. Chiang later announced she would add nine concerts to the tour to cope with the demand.

Her farewell tour began with a concert at the Taipei Arena on July 25.

To symbolize the end of her career, at the end of the concert on Sunday, Chiang placed one of her favorite microphones in a embellished glass casket, locked with box with a key and threw the key out into the audience.

About 10,000 keys then showered the stage from the arena’s rooftop.

In a recent interview with the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper), Chiang, when asked how she fared over the 51-day span of the concerts, said it was the most confusing and tumultuous period of her career.

She said that when she made the decision to retire, it was simply to give herself a calm, quiet life, but preparing for the tour was so stressful that it left her often unable to sleep well or eat properly for most of the year.

“I did not expect my decision to have such impact,” Chiang said, referring to many fans who said their lives now felt off-kilter in the wake of her decision to retire.

The number of elderly people who made their first visit to the Taipei Arena to attend one of her farewell concerts, many of them in wheelchairs pushed by their children, had deeply moved her, Chiang said, adding that the images were burned into her memory.

“Seeing those images, I was disturbed and felt it would be hard to let go,” Chiang said, adding that she began to wonder if her decision to retire from the stage might have been too selfish.

The continuous entreaties by fans to keep singing made her feel even guiltier, she said, adding that she often could not sleep after the concerts, wondering if she had made the right decision in retiring.

However, words are like water, which cannot be taken back once thrown out, she said.

Born in 1961, Chiang began her singing career at the age of 10 by entertaining patrons at bars to supplement the earnings of her father and mother, a budaixi (布袋戲, glove theater) puppet maker and a food vendor respectively.

She released close to 60 albums and more than 800 songs, and is often credited for championing Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) songs at a time when Mandarin pop music was the mainstream on the airwaves.

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